TENNESSEE, USA — An East Tennessee state representative wants harsher penalties for criminals who harm law enforcement service animals.
This comes after Bradley County K9 officer ‘Joker’ was shot September 22nd while chasing auto burglary suspects in Cleveland, Tennessee. Six juveniles were arrested in Chattanooga related to the shooting and a series of vehicle thefts. Joker was released from hospital care September 29th and is recovering.
Tennessee State Rep. Mark Hall said he will be drafting legislation to make assault on law enforcement K9's an automatic felony in the state.
Hall posted the following to social media:
“Upon hearing of the tragedy regarding Officer Ed Choate and his BCSO partner K-9 Joker, who was critically injured while in an active pursuit, I am immediately drafting legislation to make all assault on Law Enforcement K-9s an automatic FELONY in the State of Tennessee. This proposed legislation will be known as “JOKERS LAW.” My goal is to have the most aggressive law in the nation regarding this issue. These animals are assets to the communities they serve and especially to the Law Enforcement Officers that these animals protect. If a criminal wants to harm our Law Enforcement family, we will be there to stand with them as we prosecute and convict swiftly, with the full extent of Tennessee law.
The heart of our entire community is with Officer Choate and his partner, Joker.”
The Bradley County Sheriff’s Office responded on social media, saying: “The Bradley County Sheriff’s Office fully supports TN State Representative Mark Hall’s proposal to make Tennessee’s Felony Assault on Law Enforcement K-9s the most aggressive law in the nation. We agree that there should be stronger laws in place in order to protect our K9 Officers and we appreciate his determination to activate this legislation! #JOKERSLAW”